Dire Gnosis Review:
The Chaos Point: the World at the Crossroads by Ervin Laszlo
Ervin Laszlo's book, Chaos Point: the World at the Crossroads looks at the current world situation from the perspective of systems theory and amazingly, calculates 2012 to be the focus point. He starts by pointing out some of the current unsustainable situtions that are carrying us towards an abyss:
These trends lead inevitably to 2 possibilities for humanity – breakdown (devolution) or breakthrough (evolution). We are currently headed straight for the breakdown situation, but to look forward, and see exactly what possibilities are ahead, a simple trend analysis is not enough, as current trends are unsustainable and approaching a critical threshold where things get chaotic. Systems theory, and in particular the branch known as chaos theory allows an understanding.
“…when a society reaches the limits of its stability and turns chaotic, it becomes supersensitive, responsive even to small fluctuations such as changes in the values, beliefs, worldviews and aspirations of its members.”
Most systems move toward equilibrium or entropy, but complex organisms, and human society in particular are “supersensitive dynamic systems” and show negative entropy. Attractors - point attractors or periodic attractors govern the systems. The weather is a constantly chaotic system and revealed that when the system goes unstable, during a “chaos window”, then chaos attractors or strange attractors appear that drive the evolution of the system to a point where it will go one way or the other. We are now in a chaos window or “decision window”, during which the system can be affected by minute changes, as in the case of the famous “butterfly effects”: “The story goes that if a monarch butterfly flaps its wings in California, it creates a tiny air fluctuation that amplifies and amplifies and ends by creating a storm over Mongolia.” The story is linked with the Lorenz attractor, that actually looks like a butterfly http://www.cmp.caltech.edu/~mcc/chaos_new/Lorenz.html
The chaos dynamics of society follow a pattern that
goes through 4 phases:
The Trigger Phase – technological innovations – tools to manipulate nature
The Accumulation Phase – increased production of resources, faster population growth, increasing society complexity, impact on the environment.
The Decision-Window – changes reach a point where pressure threatens established order.
The Chaos Point – the system becomes critically unstable and goes either to Breakdown (devolution) or Breakthrough (evolution). In the former case, the “ethics of a critical mass of people” are too resistant to change and society degenerates into conflict and violence, but in the latter case, the mass mindset shifts to an adaptable mode that would allow a completely different paradigm and thus a sustainable society (see scientific definition on p.100).
The trigger phase was between 1800 and 1960; the accumulation phase was 1960-2005; the decision-window is 2005 to 2012 and the chaos point is in 2012.
Laszlo admits that there is a coincidence here with the end of the 13-baktun cycle of the Maya, but clearly implies that the 2012 chaos point was calculated independently.
Although technology is the trigger to change, the solution is not more technology, but new thinking, values and priorities in a critical mass of people.
The 5 drivers of chaos are as follows:
1. Unsustainable distribution of wealth; (economic growth benefiting fewer and marginalizing more)
2. Unsustainable affluent consumption (developing countries are trying to keep up with USA), meat and tobacco industries are robbing the poor of land for grain;
3. Unsustainable developments in global finance; (trade deficits, world finance of US overspending)
4. Unsustainabilty of established social structures (population increase, family breakdown, increasing exposure of children to sex and violence on TV etc)
5. Unsustainable human load on nature (demand on resources exceeding supply, 10.3 hectares per person in USA (a sustainable load is 1.7 hectares) there is not enough land on the planet for this level of agricultural land use.) Pollution and mis-management of water, soil, and air is affecting climate trends.
In order to help understand the process of cultural transformation that is necessary, Laszlo looks back at previous transformations.
Mythos-Theos: The first change was from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic around 11,000 BC, when the nomadic hunter-gatherers started to gather in permanent settlements, cultivating plants and herding animals. The feminine influence of earth mother, fertility etc. replaced the masculine survival mentality of the Palaeolithic.
Theos-Logos: the second change was from Neolithic to iron age around 2,000 BC, when the societal changes triggered by iron technology caused a shift in values and beliefs. The Greek philosophers’ concept of Logos, or word, that developed into reason, combined with metron, or measure, (around 500 BC) has been the basis of “Western civilisation” ever since.
In 476 AD the Byzantine Empire was founded, and Christianity modified the paradigm further. In the 17th century, the scientific mindset began to influence the worldview. Galileo’s concept of a mechanistic cosmos was confirmed by Newton, while the agricultural revolution was providing mills and horse-drawn ploughs and other mechanisms, such as clocks were developed.
In these past transitions, many civilizations failed to survive. The ones that did survive developed a new mind-set. Analysing these past transitions, and looking at the problems now facing the world, Laszlo says there are 2 types of growth possible in a civilisation – extensive growth and intensive growth. Extensive growth conquers, dominates, colonises, consumes, and is unsustainable. Intensive growth develops individuals, communities and ecologies; it connects and communicates, develops consciousness and produces sustainability.
Logos-Holos: This is Laszlo’s term for the coming transition, in which we must develop a new mind-set, or worldview and a new structure for society, with 4 levels of decision-making – global, regional, national and local.
Laszlo analyses US society and finds 3 basic types of people – moderns, (into money, fashion, media, gadgets) traditionals, (fixed gender roles, women subordinate, patriotic, gun-carrying, church-centred) and cultural-creatives (interested in arts, organic food, ecologically sound products, social activists). It is in this later, growing group – a group that Robert Anton Wilson may have called neo-philiacs, that the hope lies for shifting our path towards Breakthrough. Obviously, this is an over-simplification, but you get the picture.
Evolution of consciousness is the key – we should all be seeking altered states of consciousness, whether by meditation, deep prayer, ritual, breath-work, yoga, martial arts, shamanic trance dance or other possibilities, a new consciousness means a new kind of thinking, and in the current decision-window, such a small fluctuation can affect the trajectory of the whole system.
End-of-the-world prophecies around 2012 are not helping shift the mind-set in the right direction. It is the end of a worldview or world-era we need to embrace. Laszlo says that, while Lovelock has raised awareness of the current crisis in his recent book, The Revenge of Gaia, he disagrees that we have passed the point of irreversibility, because of the butterfly-effects of the decision window we are in:
“…not only nature, but also humanity is a dynamic system that is now nearing a Chaos Point – and is therefore ultrasensitive and capable of an ultrarapid transformation”.
As in fighting a common enemy, when anger and frustration propel people to take action and forget about petty disagreements they can unite to a “cultural mutation”, but we have not yet reached a point where people are motivated – the trends must be more visible. Perhaps, Laszlo suggests (but hopes not), it will take a catastrophe to trigger it.
Laszlo explains the science behind his analysis, by Holism in physics, biology and psychology. In quantum physics, the non-locality principle discovered at sub-atomic levels can also be applied macro-cosmically - “the whole universe is an entangled quantum system”, in which everything is interconnected and a part of “a more integrated ensemble” or whole – hence Holism – the essence of the new physics.
In biology, the post-Darwinian developmental schools find that the organism is more than the sum of its parts, with “emergent properties”. This holistic approach is called coherence, in which “the constant communication of all parts of the organism allows adjustments, responses and changes required for the maintenance of the whole system to propagate in all directions at once”. This is what we need to strive for at a species level.
Holism in psychology: Gestalt psychology demonstrates the wholeness of the human mind - transpersonal elements can affect consciousness as in telepathy, remote viewing, telesomatic affects (healing and sympathetic magic). Jung’s “collective unconscious” and archetypes deal with a collective mind level that is shared by all humanity.
So, Newton, Darwin and Freud are all “old-school”, as holism takes science to the next stage, and in order to change the world’s trajectory to a non-destructive one, we must adopt a “planetary consciousness” and treat the world as if it is alive. Whatever we can contribute to the New Consciousness may be the fluctuation that amplifies into a storm.
In the words of James O’Dea, president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, “this phase shift has been likened to a collective species transition from adolescence to maturity”.
It is interesting to note that, like the Hopi, Aztec and Maya myths of past eras, Laszlo’s systems theory analysis sees the forthcoming transition as comparable to that which separated past historical eras – Palaeolithic, Neolithic and iron age. Thus we are in the third era, approaching the fourth by this analysis. A comparison with the dream of Daniel (Beyond 2012 p.59) suggests that the Iron Age has a later iron/clay development, - the Christian era.
UPDATE: November 2007
The Club of Budhapest was founded by its president, Ervin Laszlo and is affiliated with the Club of Rome - described on Rense.com as "an elite think-tank working with the UN".
In The First Global Revolution the Club of Rome made this statement:
"In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill.... All these dangers are caused by human intervention... The real enemy, then, is humanity itself."
The First Global Revolution
The original article on Wikipedia said: "The First Global Revolution is a 1991 book published by the Club of Rome regarding their proposed means of uniting the planet under a single government. Their conclusion is to use global warming as a threat, in order to convince the nations of the world to relinquish their sovereignty".
We should be aware that the people behind the governments who want a one-world government or New World Order may be manipulating us in order to sanction an apparent solution to world problems. However, the One World Government they have in mind is not the same democratic, altruistic solution that we imagine. Google Club of Rome; Bilderberg; New World Order.
http://www.rense.com/general76/amz.htm also on Wikipedia but now removed (try Google cache)